Sunday, December 26, 2010

Do Whop

Imagine this ...

- a large, imposing stone building on a secluded hilltop
- a set of ancient iron gates and a long, serpentine drive leading up a hillside
- barred, curtainless windows, one after another
- inside ... a narrow hallway ... mirror-image, pale green doorways ... paint peeling
- inside ... a furnitureless room and stark, white padded walls
- inside ... a solitary figure methodically defining the room in a seemingly prearranged pattern of trodden squares, rectangles, circles and figure-eights
- inside ... every so often, the figure pauses ... hands lifted in a slight, but graceful gesture
- inside ... from his lips ... an almost inaudible murmur
- do whop do whop

from across the hallway ... na, na na, na na ... na, na na, na na

from down the corridor ... ba rump a bum bum

from the adjoining room ...doobie doobie

and ... bop shoo bop

and ...sha na na

then silence

and then, it begins anew.

Do Whop Singer
Must be able to work in dim lighting ... outside the spotlight.
Work primarily in teams of three.
Pleasant , but unremarkable appearance a plus.
Demonstrated ability to sing single-syllable, nonsensical words or phrases.

Anne and I listened to xmas music all the way from Vermont to Virginia ... 13 hours. We were overflowing with the xmas spirit. I did, however, make a slight observation. Xmas carols are notorious for inane filler lyrics. Ba rump a bum bum so to speak. It made me think. What would make someone decide, "I want to be a background singer"? How bad could their life have been? What must their futures be like, just outside the spotlight rim? What's it like to work your way to the top of the do whop profession and how might you know that you actually are at the apex of your career? Self actualization become surreal. It's not like you are enshrined in the Backup Hall of Fame, or asked to join the Mormon Tabernacle Do Whop Choir.

I thought about how one might interview candidates for the job. What would you ask? "Mr. Smith, how do you feel about being a nobody?" Or ... "Ms. Doe, I noticed the logo on your unassuming, gray blazer. It said, 2nd Banana ... Love the Peeling. Can you speak to that ever so briefly?"

I've racked my brains to think of the names of the great back up singers. The back up singers for James Brown was all I could come up with. Maybe their name says it best ...

Bitter Sweet.

Monday, December 13, 2010


I've been thinking about retirement lately and when and how it should occur. I sat down with my boss yesterday to discuss it. Without question, I have been treated well in my position and made to feel wanted and appreciated. When need be, my boss has stepped in to situations on my behalf. Our personal and professional relationship has steadily grown stronger over the years. My decision relative to retirement was whatever works best for my boss is what I am prepared to do. It was decided that I would officially leave on July 1 with possible per diem days to help train my replacement. After we talked, I sat down and tried to write a letter of resignation and after a few attempts realized that I could not do it. The letter seemed so boring and I could not see me going out that way. I seemed cold and in no way conveyed my feelings. Instead, I wrote a poem ... even though I am not a poet. When I finished, good or bad, it felt like me! So here it is!

A Conversation With a Friend

I find myself in a full tilt boogie!
a boogie, so vast and all-encompassing
that it cannot be contained
by walls
by schedules
by responsibilities.

that said,
I must clear my calendar for a new adventure!

over ten years ago,
I came here for a visit
and found a family instead.
I cannot begin to express how much I have loved working here.

one thing I know about myself
I work best
and am happiest
in situations with strong, visionary leadership
… with a leader who can make hard decisions …
… but, with a leader who has a heart…
thank you, Ingrid, for being that person for me.

with mixed emotion,
it is my intention
to resign my position
as Confidential Secretary
effective July 1, 2011.

I want to express my thanks to you personally
for allowing me to share in the experience that is BAMS
for being my support
for tolerating the oddities that make me who I am.

thank you BAMS for filling my plate
for caring for me
for letting me be a part of something great

I have feasted
taste buds aquiver – bitter and sweet
I am nourished.
And I am full.

Respectfully and with love,

Bruce Marshall
Confidential Secretary

Saturday, December 4, 2010


Every time I turn around these days, something else is giving out. My latest trial and tribulation is getting my new hearing aids. They fit nicely on the shelf beside the partial plate, the graduated lens, the prostate removal, and knee that continues to nag at me.

I feel like a 52 Ford in the breakdown lane. Every time I try to pull back into traffic for a ride, another part gives out. Much to my chagrin, the parts are now vintage and I either can't find a part to replace them or they are so expensive that I can't afford a new one.